50,000 turn out in Tel-Aviv to support Druze call for equality

August 6, 2018 by TPS
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Over 50,000 people flooded Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening to protest the controversial nation-state law. The demonstration, called by the Druze community, highlighted the ongoing dispute between minority communities and the government.

Photo by Eitan Elhadez/TPS

Sheikh Mowafaq Tarīf, the highest-ranking Druze spiritual leader in Israel, told protesters that the government doesn’t see Druze Israelis as full-fledged members of Israeli society.

“Despite our unlimited loyalty, the state doesn’t consider us equals,” he said.  “We fight for the security of the country; we will (also) fight for the right to live in Israel with equality and respect,” he added.

Tarif also added that he is confident that Netanyahu wants to amend the law, which currently enshrines the Star of David flag and the Hatikva national anthem into law. It also reiterates Jerusalem’s status as the state’s eternal capital and defines Hebrew as the country’s only official state language, relegating Arabic to a “special status.”

Still, the rally highlighted growing tension over the law between the government and the 100,000-strong community that has taken pains to integrate into Israeli society. In 1956, community leaders petitioned then-Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion not to exempt the community from mandatory military conscription, and Druze Israelis have served as judges, cabinet ministers, Israeli ambassadors and MKs representing nearly every Zionist political party.

Last week, however, 100 Druze IDF reservists signed a petition condemning the nation-state law, and on Friday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly ended a meeting with Druze representatives after Brig. Gen. (res.) Amal Asad called Israel an “apartheid state” in a Facebook post.

Supporters of the measure say the measure does not detract from individuals’ civil rights or equality before the law; opponents counter that the law violates fundamental rights such as the right to equality and relegates non-Jewish minorities to second-class citizenship.

Several retired intelligence and security officials also condemned the law.

“It is a matter of values,” said former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo. “The law is an injustice to 20 percent of Israel’s population”.

Former Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin added that the law was meant “to serve right-wing political needs, while retired IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told Hebrew-language media that “we have fought and died together (Druze); I  am here to say that I stand with them.”

TPS

Comments

3 Responses to “50,000 turn out in Tel-Aviv to support Druze call for equality”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    The end could be near for the PM at the next election in Israel.

  2. Adrian Jackson says:

    These laws will be the undoing of the government.

  3. Adrian Jackson says:

    Time for a new style of government in Israel at the next election. Liberalism not conservationism.

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